Brian Spurling running a training session at Westbrook in 1986

The man who trained a movement

29th Apr 2022

If there is one face from the last forty years that most Urban Saints Leaders would recognise, it is probably that of Brian Spurling.

In his 28 years of paid service, he has travelled well over 300,000 miles and organised/run over 400 training/regional/ national events. At Christmas he officially retired, and a celebration lunch was held with friends and former colleagues.

As an organisation, it is impossible to say how much we owe this quiet, self-effacing man. A true ‘Crusader’ in all senses, Urban Saints would not be where it is today without his colossal contributions. He has kept us at the forefront of training and best practice since the early 1980s. Our debt to him is immeasurable and, in my opinion, he stands alongside the Crusader giants of yesteryear.

Here’s a look at Brian's Crusaders/Urban Saints resume:


Joined Chelmsford Crusaders aged 9


Became a Christian at Technical Hobbies Crusader Camp


Joined Exeter Pennsylvania Crusaders and became a helper when he started at Exeter University


First helped at Crusader Camp at Bembridge and has run Camps virtually every year since, including planning for Studland in 2022.

Early 1980s

Became a volunteer trainer at Crusader Training events whilst still a Physics teacher in Devon, mainly at Basic Training Weekend events.


Following his return from a brief career as a pilot in the USA, Brian looked after the Camps department in St Albans for about six months. He helped set up a Crusader Group at Exeter Stoke Valley which he still leads today.


He started as Training Officer working from home in Devon and supporting the Training Manager, Brenda Cuthbert.


Brenda retired and Brian became Training Manager. He wrote the first ‘Know How Guide’, the Into Action training programme for teenagers and the Preliminary Training programme for new leadership teams. The latest versions of all of these are still in use! He also wrote and delivered the training days for Leaders at up to 21 venues around the UK each year, assisted by Area Development Workers, a team of national trainers and various staff members.


Appointed as South West Regional Director following a reorganisation of departments. Apart from all the training events and regional activity days, he also helped develop South West Spree since 1988 which is still one of the largest Christian camping events for young people in the region.


Appointed as Training & Development Lead and helped develop all the resources needed to support new and existing Groups (especially the Good Practice Guide and all the forms that Groups need). He looked after the process to help Energize Plus Groups join the growing network of Urban Saints groups in 2021, as well as updating all of the training programmes for leaders and teenagers, and wrote a prolific amount of COVID-19 guidelines!


Retired in December. Once Brian has had a few months to recover, we are hoping we may still benefit from his expertise through various projects.

In his usual positive manner (!), back in 1993 when he joined the paid Team, Brian correctly prophesied in Link Magazine, “The workloads will probably be immense, the problems huge and the telephone bill enormous, but I am looking forward to the next few years with great anticipation.”

Brian – I think you were right on all points but I know you will agree it was worth every moment. On behalf of the thousands of young people who have been drawn deeper into the Kingdom through your service – THANK YOU. What's more, we're delighted that you continue to serve through your local Urban Saints Group and various projects across the wider Urban Saints family!

Jo Slater - Supporter Relations Coordinator


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